African Union asks Mugabe to form unity govt

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London, Jul 2: African Union has asked Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe to hold talks with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party over how to form a unity government. The move, which is likely to increase the pressure on MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to reach a deal, was made at an African Union (AU) summit, The Telegraph reported.

Both sides ruled out power sharing after the presidential run-off, which was contested only by Mugabe, but delegates at the AU summit hope their resolution could resolve the crisis. The AU resolved "to encourage President Robert Mugabe and the leader of the Movement for Democractic Change Morgan Tsvangirai to initiate dialogue with a view to promoting peace, stability," said an official.

It also resolved "to support the call for the creation of a government of national unity, to support SADC facilitation," the official added.

South African mediators have also resumed talks with Zimbabwe's regime and the opposition, restarting a highly sensitive process, which Mugabe could use to neutralise his opponents.

Mugabe may try to reinforce his grip on power by including one or both factions of the MDC in a coalition.

As well as dividing and weakening his opponents, this would allow him to claim legitimacy despite the violent and universally condemned presidential election. This possibility makes any resumption of talks an extremely delicate issue.

The dominant MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai formally denied that any talks had taken place on Tuesday, July 1, adding that Mugabe's "sham" election had "completely exterminated any prospects of a negotiated settlement."

President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa has been responsible for mediating talks in Zimbabwe.

Despite the official denial, a source close to Tsvangirai said he had been in contact with Mbeki, via intermediaries, since the election's final round.

ANI

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